What do I need to be a successful Background Extra?

There are a number of things that make a successful Background Artist or Extra:

  • Reliability
  • Good availability
  • Flexible schedule 
  • Own transport
  • Be able to take direction well
  • Arriving 15 minutes ahead of your call time.
  • A mobile phone and email address.

How do I apply to be an Extra with GBM Casting?

To apply to GBM Casting please fill out our online application 

As part of the online application we will ask you to upload a photo of yourself. Please upload a clear colour head and shoulders shot with a plain background. The better the photo the more jobs we can cast you for. 

To join GBM Casting there is a Listing Fee of £25. This is a yearly of payment and covers the cost of us arranging for you to have your professional photos taken, hosting your profile on the GBM Casting website and including you, in all printed and emailed look books and ensuring you are prioritised for work over the year you list with us. 

Once you have registered with us – we will invite you to a photo shoot to have your professional photos taken. We run photo shoots in both Edinburgh and Glasgow so you can choose the location that suits you best.

We look forward to receiving your application from you GBM Casting need new faces all the time. 

I have been confirmed for a job tomorrow. When will I get the details?

Job details (call time, location and costume brief) can be sent late on the evening before you are due onset. Once we receive the details we will forward all the details to you via a check in email.  Any intricate details such as location and costume brief are provided in the check in email. 

If you haven’t heard by 7pm the night before you are due on set – please get in touch with us.

Please do not contact us in advance of 7pm simply because it can block the line for call times and jobs coming to us.

What should I wear?

It is really important that you adhere to the costume brief sent by the production. See this blog on the importance of costume. 

We will text you in advance of the job to tell you exactly what you need. It will most likely be your own clothes. Some simple guidelines to help you always get it right:

    • Bring at least three full options, which are clean and pressed.
    • No logos or crazy patterns including spots, dots and stripes
    • Think about the weather and location of the shoot. You may want to wear thermal underwear beneath any costumes and clothing.
    • No shoes that make a clip noise  – only soft soles and remember to wear comfortable shoes as you may be required to stand for a period of time
    • Always bring a warm coat for in between takes and a small bag with a bottle of water and snacks in it.

How long are shoot days?

Normal shoot days are between 10 and 12 hours. We will advise you of this in the availability check email you are sent at the first stage of any booking. Please be prepared for early start (also referred to as call time)

Driving to a Job and Parking

If there is parking available on a shoot we will let you know otherwise you will be responsible for finding your own parking – it may be more convenient to use public transport if times and locations allow.

What should I do if I am late or something happens on the way to a job?

Phone the GBM Casting mobile number immediately. We will then contact the AD on set and let them know your ETA and if they still want you to attend. If you are late you may miss the scene you have been booked for and you will then be released without pay. 

What happens when I arrive on set?

When you first arrive on set, there will be someone there to tell you where you should go

It is likely that you will be placed in a holding area before the shooting starts and in-between takes and scenes. Please stay in the holding area as you may be required on set at short notice and production will not be willing to search for you.

Mobile Phones

Due to confidentiality and security precautions please do not take mobile devices onto the set. This is non negotiable even if you see crew with theirs as they maybe using their phones for business purposes.

Please not not take any photos while on set or behind the scenes.

Will there be somewhere secure to leave my bag and other things?

This is not guaranteed. It is recommended that you do not bring valuables with you on a shoot.

Does and Don’t while filming?

  • Please do not talk while on set
  • When filming a scene that requires talking please mine in silence
  • Be aware of your arm movements as lots of movement can look exaggerated on camera
  • Do not look at the camera  – look everywhere except at the camera
  • Follow instructions exactly as asked
  • Don’t change your clothes during takes
  • Wear exactly what the costume department asks
  • When asked to go to ‘1st position’ go back to where you started.
  • Watch the person who gave you the instructions for your cue to move/walk/run
  • Only smoke in designated smoking area during allocated breaks.

Can I talk to the Actors?

We would ask that you don’t unless they speak to you first. Please never approach the actors. The set is their place of work and they need space to get into character and rehearse their lines.

What should I do when I am not on set?

Always take a warm coat bottle of water and a small bag of snacks for in between takes. You will get fed while out on a shoot but it can be a while between breaks.

In between takes you will be asked to return to the holding area or stay by the set ready to shoot again.

There will be ongoing filming and if you are close to the set please ensure you stay quiet and listen for what next.

You may be waiting around for some time, so bring something to keep yourself entertained, like a book and/or a newspaper. Although not allowed on set you can use your phone, iPad or tablet in the holding area

What if I have an accident on set?

Please report the accident immediately to the AD responsible for you.

An accident report should be completed and signed by production, you may be asked to sign it too. Contact us to let us what has happened as soon as possible.

What should I do if I have to leave set early due to illness?

If you become ill on set contact the AD immediately and let them know. If you are able to please also text or call us so we can ensure you are safe.

What should I do if I have any other problem while on set?

Please let us know as soon as possible by calling or texting us ensuring you are not disrupting the filming schedule or using a mobile while on set.

Once we are aware of the problem and have made enquiries on your behalf we or the AD responsible will be in contact with directions on what to do.

What does a fitting involve?

If you are booked for a costume fitting it means the costume department needs to see you in advance of the shoot to fit you for a costume for the role you are playing on the shoot day. You are paid to be at your fitting for up to two hours although the fitting often takes less time. However, you should be plan to be there for the full two hours.

What should I do if I am not sure what to do?

Call or email us as we are happy to help. If you are on set please pay full attention to the instructions you are given. If the instructions are unclear seek clarification from the person who has given you direction. It helps to remember any landmarks or people you are near or pass while on set so you know where you were at certain points in the filming. 

It may also be an option to ask a fellow artist to see if they can answer your question.

If you are told conflicting information by the crew always go with the last instruction you were given and remember the name or description of the person who gave you the directions in case you are asked.

Will I get anything to eat on set?

Catering facilities depend on the job. We will tell you in advance of any job if you need to take your own food.  You can take your own food if you want and keep it the holding area. We always recommend you take a small bag of snacks and a bottle of water for in between takes. 

How and when will I get paid?

Please make sure your bank account details are in your profile – so we can pay you.

The time it takes to get paid is determined by how quickly the production company pays their invoice. We run payroll on a Monday. You can check the status of all payments via your profile. Just click on the diary tab underneath your photo. 

We ask that you allow for 6 weeks before contacting us to enquire about a payment.

Tax and National Insurance

Working as a Background Artist your are a self-employed entertainer .

It is therefore, your own responsibility to register with HMRC and declare your earnings correctly. You should be able to deduct any commission, administration fee and VAT as business expenses when arriving at your net earnings that you will be subject to income tax and National Insurance contributions on. Please take professional advice on your personal tax situation as we can not offer any tax advice.

How come I have not had much work ?

There are many reasons why you haven’t had much work. We keep a record of who has had what work and we try to share it out. However, we have no influence over who is selected. As we have no control over the briefs coming in, nor do we have the final say in who is selected.

Other things that can affect the amount of work for everybody is the seasonal nature of the business with the first part of the year normally being quiet.

What can make a difference is the quality of information in your profile – see this blog for more information on the perfect profile. 

I was contacted about my availability for a job but no one replied to me?

We try to get back to everyone that we contact in a day about availability but sometimes we don’t manage for a million reasons. We aim to send a booking or release email to let you know the status of your booking.

The priority for us it contacting those the Director has picked and getting the job confirmed. So, rather texting or calling us if you haven’t heard back by 7pm assume you haven’t got the job.

Cristin Mackenzie

Just wanted to say a huge thank you for your help with the casting!
The quality of the people you were provided were excellent and a cut above the other agencies. Really impressed and grateful!